Water is essential to life. Every day, we use it for drinking, bathing, cleaning, cooking and gardening.
Reducing the amount of water used in your home can reduce the cost of water treatment and put less strain on our resources. See the sections below for useful tips on how to conserve water in your everyday life.
Outside the House
Being water wise outside means you can reduce the amount of high quality drinking water that is used on your lawns, plants and paved areas. Below are tips on how you can conserve water and help your garden at the same time.
- Water your lawn only when it needs it. A good way to test this is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move it doesn't need watering. If it stays flat it needs watering.
- Deep soak your lawn instead of giving your lawn a quick drink every night. This enables the grass to become more deeply rooted seeking out moisture, which will make the grass hardier. Water a maximum of twice a week, but for a longer period.
- Reduce the lawn area. This has the added benefit of reducing your mowing.
- Use a timer with your sprinkler so you don’t forget to turn it off. Some sprinklers use as much water in an hour as a family of four uses in a day. Make sure you position your sprinklers so the water lands on your lawn or garden, not paved areas or unsuspecting people passing by.
- Grow your grass a little bit longer in summer. Taller grass holds water better and it will stay greener for longer. Let the lawn go brown during very dry times. When the rain starts falling again the transformation from brown grass to green will be worth it.
- Use good quality mulch. Mulches can prevent up to 73% of evaporation loss. Mulches can prevent excessive runoff, restrict weed growth, improve soil structure and help put valuable nutrients back into the soil.
- Group plants according to how much water they require. By grouping plants by water usage you can avoid waste on plants that don't need a lot of water and time for you.
- Water the highest parts of the garden first. This ensures that any runoff water soaks into lower dry areas rather than being wasted.
- Toughen up the plants. Plants can become too pampered and dependent on watering. This means that they will not go out of their way to find water themselves. Wait until the soil dries out before watering the plants. You can use plants such as bamboo as an indicator. When the bamboo leaves start to droop, then it’s time to water.
- Weed your garden regularly. Weeds compete for water and nutrients.
- Dig a small trench around trees. This will give the water a chance to soak in and reduces water lost as runoff.
- Water your pot plants by dunking them in a bucket of water. Wait a few seconds, when the bubbles disappear, do the next pot. This saves water and ensures pot plants get a thorough drink.
- Water during cooler parts of the day – in the morning and at night. Avoid watering on windy days too.
- Water the roots of your plants, not the leaves. The water will be lost by sun evaporation and it can damage the plant’s leaves. Pour the water directly onto the roots where it is needed instead.
- Plant drought resistant native trees and plants. Many natives are both attractive and suited to gardens, and thrive with far less watering than other species.
- Use a trigger hose. This allows you to be in control of how much you spray and water is not wasted when moving the hose around. Always remember to turn the tap off when finished in case the pressure builds up and causes the nozzle to pop off.
- Invest in a compost bin. Compost improves your soil; it increases the moisture holding capacity of sandy soil and allows better penetration of water into heavy clay soils. It’s also a great use of your left over food scraps.
- Cover your pool to reduce evaporation, retain warmth and keep out leaves and dirt. Up to 200 litres of water per day can be lost because of evaporation from a typical ground pool.
- Accept some fluctuation in pool level due to evaporation and rainfall. They will often compensate for each other, meaning topping up with the hose can be avoided.
- Check the pool for leaks.
- Discourage games with the hose and sprinklers. Although great fun for the kids, squirting water around can waste up to 1000 litres per hour.
Washing the car, boat or caravan
- Use a bucket and sponge to wash the car, boat or caravan. Use the hose only for rinsing and turn it off in between rinses.
- Wash the car, boat or caravan on the lawn instead of on the driveway.
- Use a broom not a hose to clean driveways and footpaths. Cleaning a path with a broom is quicker and more efficient than using a hose, which can waste up to 1000 litres per hour.
Inside the House
Check for leaks
- If you have a water meter, turn all taps off before you go to bed one night and take a meter reading. Check the meter the next morning before any water is used. If the meter reading has advanced, and no-one used any water during the night, you may have a leaking pipe, tap or toilet cistern.
- A continuously running toilet can waste more than 16,000 litres of water per year. To check for leaks put a little food colouring in the tank. If without flushing the toilet, the colouring begins to appear in the bowl, the cistern should be repaired.
- A slow drip from a tap can waste more than 200 litres of water per day. Turn taps off properly and fix any that are broken.
- If you are thinking of upgrading, install a dual flush toilet. Modern toilets give the option of full or half flush. Traditional toilets can usually be converted to dual flush too.
- Try taking shorter showers of four minutes or less. A shorter shower will also save on hot water costs. To help the kids remember, you can buy a shower timer.
- Install a water-saving shower rose. Many showers put out 20 litres of water per minute, however, 10 litres is enough for a refreshing shower.
- Install a simple, inexpensive tap aerator on your bathroom tap to reduce the water flow rate by 50 per cent. You can buy them from your local hardware store or your plumber.
- Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving.
In the laundry
- Up to a quarter of your household’s water is used on the laundry. An inefficient washing machine can use 200 litres of water per wash. Replacing it is one of the biggest water savings you can make in your home.
- Front loading machines are generally more efficient than top loaders. They typically use 50 per cent less water, 35 per cent less detergent and 30 per cent less energy. This makes them a much more cost effective option.
- Make sure the washing machine's load adjustment is right for the load. If there's no load adjustment, wait until you have enough clothes for a full load.
In the kitchen
- When washing dishes by hand, don't rinse them under a running tap. If you have two sinks, fill the second one with rinsing water. If you have only one sink, stack washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a pan of hot water.
- Don't run the dishwasher until you have a full load. Dishwashers use a huge amount of electricity so it will save you money.
- Don't let the tap run when cleaning vegetables. Just rinse them in a plugged sink or a pan of clean water.
- Keep a bottle or a covered jug of drinking water in the refrigerator. It saves running the tap to get cold water.
- Empty your water bottles onto your plants instead of in the sink.
- When cooking, use only a little water in the saucepan and keep the lid on. Steaming or using a pressure cooker keeps more nutrients in the food and reduces your energy and water use.
- Sink disposal units use about 30 litres of water per day and send a lot of extra rubbish into water treatment centres. Why not compost your food scraps instead and use them in the garden?
- Check the water efficiency labelling on your appliances. If you are buying a new appliance, check that is has a good rating.
Hot water pipes and systems
- Insulate hot water pipes. This avoids wasting water while waiting for hot water to flow through and saves power and money for you.
- Make sure your hot water system thermostat is not set too high. Adding cold water to cool too hot water is wasteful. The recommended setting is 60 degrees. Ask a plumber or electrician to change it if needed.
- If you have a spa, ensure it is well insulated to keep water warm for longer. Reheating the water during the reticulation/spa process reduces water wastage.